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Oktoberfest lagering time question

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stoby

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So I brewed my third lager back in June, an Oktoberfest/Marzen that I wanted to consume in an effort to ring in the fall. My previous lagering experiences have been mixed. My first was a Dunkel that started out a bit harsh, but after 8 weeks of lagering started to really come into its own (unfortuneately the picnic tap was snagged on a piece inside the freezer and when I went to get a refill, about three gallons had been dispensed). My second lager was a pilsner that tasted and smelled of canned corn (l later found out that this was probably due to DMS). So I have been nervous this go around.

For this beer I made a gallon starter, pumped in oxygen for 2 min, pitched cold, and maintained a constant fermentation temp within the yeasts specified range. I raised the temp toward the end for a D rest that I let go for about 4 days, and then cooled down to lagering temp of 33 degrees. I was going to rack it off to a keg and start carbing it up right away, but life happened and a couple of weeks elapsed before I was able to do so. It has been in the keg at the same temp for almost three weeks now, and today I took a small taste sample to see how it was. It tasted similar to what I associate my unconditioned ales. It was like it had ungelded layers of grainy/malt, and slight raw hop bitterness (not a bunch of hops in the style). There was almost a roast taste as well. I didn't taste any corn, butter, excessive alcohol, or green apple type off flavors, just a raw/harsh grainy beer.

Do you believe that this is just a green beer still? I'm not expecting it to be ready yet. I followed a recipe from Gordon Strong (All his brewing advice has always paid off in my endeavors), and it had stated it needed about 12 weeks of lagering time. However, I read more and more threads where people are saying it takes them 4-6 weeks to lager a 1.060 beer (about where mine was) and I thought that mine would be smoother by now, as I am about 6 weeks into the lagering phase (The time since it has been lowered to 33 degrees). Should I be worried? Is there something else I should do at this point or just ride it out and see what father time does? I sure do appreciate any help and advice.
 

cactusgarrett

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Your processes sound spot on. Are you going for a marzen again for this one? What is the grainbill and what yeast did you use?
 
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stoby

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I had kept my notes on a computer that crashed and burned on me, but the basic parameters for the recipe were:
3# pils
4#vienna
5# munich
1 # dark munich
8 oz caramunich III
12 oz melanoidin
Yeast was Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager
 
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Hopalong

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Pils and Oktoberfest are great beers and interesting to make.
The beer is still green, it will round out with time. The recipe will make an interesting beer.
With any beer, allow the extract to come to a boil and as hot break forms skim it off. When hot break ceases to form or drastically reduces add bittering hops and boil for the usual one hour. Skim off second break, too.
The longer boiling period reduces the risk of canned corn flavors popping up. Also, less hops will be needed because the wort is a little cleaner.

Due to the diacetyl rest the lager won't naturally carbonate during lagering unless it is krausened. If diacetyl didn't form in a previous batch, stop the rest. If diacetyl was produced it is better to clean up the brewing procedure because when diacetyl forms it's due to wort that's chemically imbalanced and lacking nutrients. Use fine yeast, not harvested or yeast that was screwed with too much. The rest is only a patch because the precursor is still there and diacetyl returns during storage. A diacetyl rest is the patsy used to force lager through fermentation by beating up yeast which gets the beer into the bottle quicker and into the belly before deterioration sets in.
When a recipe for homebrew lager recommends high modified malt, no Beta rest, no secondary fermentation, and the beer has to be primed with sugar or CO2 injected there is no advantage to lagering except for maybe clearing the beer. The wort lacks the types of complex sugar required in ale and lager, maltose and maltotriose. Since, the sugar isn't there, everything that's supposed to occur during secondary fermentation and lagering won't occur.

This is what happens during fermentation when a Beta rest is used along with using under modified malt such as Weyermann Pils floor malt. During primary fermentation yeast rips through simple sugar (glucose) cranking out the majority ABV. Glucose is released by Alpha during saccharification. Then, comes a problem, yeast can only work on simple sugar and the sugar left after primary fermentation takes place are complex types of sugar. So, during second fermentation another type of conversion takes place. Within yeast is an enzyme, and during second fermentation yeast absorbs maltose through the cell wall and the enzyme converts maltose back into glucose, the sugar maltose originally came from. The sugar is used for fuel and gravity reduces closer to expected FG.
During lagering yeast works on maltotriose and natural carbonation occurs and the beer drops to expected FG.
Reducing the risk of oxidation is very important when beer is going to be aged for months. By nature, single infusion causes oxidation. It happens in the mashtun when the mash is rested for an hour in the 150F range. Oxidation is the reason why it is recommended to pound down homebrew after aging for eight to 12 weeks. After that, the beer deteriorates.
I brew only Octoberfest and Pils. Pils at 1053/1055 are aged a minimum six months, Oktoberfest 1057/1060 minimum nine months. I use the tri-decoction method and Weyermann Pils floor malt. Bottom line, the beer is tapped when Momma Nature says it's ready and to know when it's ready is part of the fun that goes with sampling the beer every couple of weeks and every time the beer is sampled a little bit of the goop at the bottom is removed and when no more goop comes out, pound it down.
Check out the recipes on Weyermann Malt website.
 
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stoby

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Interesting information, I do appreciate your reply. So basically when one incorporates a D rest into their fermentation schedule, the lagering period is doing nothing but dropping the beer clear? If this is the case, wouldn't the lagering time be pretty straight forward depending on the yeast strain used? If there isn't any other biological processes occurring, basically its just a cold storage phase to flocculate the yeast?

One thing that I am curious about is your statement, " Oxidation is the reason why it is recommended to pound down homebrew after aging for eight to 12 weeks. After that, the beer deteriorates." I have read so many posts, and books, and talked to many homebrewers that lager far longer than that, and they claim that the beer continues to get better and better. They also claim to use the same process as I have followed, so it confuses me that their product would have such a short life in cold storage. I think I had flattered myself by believing I had a basic foundation of knowledge toward the concept of producing lagers, but It is clear that I don't know jack ****. I have no problem continuing to learn, and I certainly appreciate you passing on some knowledge and advice.
 

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A diacetyl rest is a method used to help remove buttery ester byproducts from your beer while your yeast is still active. It's usually done during the latter stages of primary fermentation prior to lagering, which is simply cold storage over a period of time that will help drop yeast from suspension and clear your beer, improving the flavor.
You can lager ales. It's not uncommon to cold age bottled ales, especially the higher malt, higher ABV versions. It improves their flavor over time and you will definitely notice it for yourself if you stick to the hobby. One of my higher ABV ales (Helles bock) done with WLP001 ale yeast at 6%ABV aged and improved for almost 10-11 months after bottling. It ended up being a nice, clear, and clean strong beer - for me.

Given time, yeast will also remove and process something called acetaldehyde. I've experienced the "green apple" aroma and flavor moreso in young, partially finished extract beers simply because I'd have to sample them during the bottle-carbing process. As I've gone to all grain with more experience, I've learned to be more patient and let the yeast do the work in a cool, undisturbed location.
 
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Hoppy2bmerry

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Give it more time. A Marzen is traditionally brewed in March, hence the name. It is lagered until served in October (before the fest was moved to September)
 
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stoby

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I will certainly give it more time. Honestly I never intended to drink this beast until early October. I just sampled it and it tasted very rough. I hear so many people talk about turning lagers around in 6 weeks, so I figured I would see where it was at. I cant wait to try it again in a couple weeks to see if there is any progress. I should have known the 6 week thing would probably lead to green tasting beer. I know you can turn ales around commonly in three weeks, but I have found mine are almost always better with a couple of weeks additional conditioning. It makes since that even a moderately strengthen lager fermented with the schedule style I followed would need 9-12 weeks lagering time.
 
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stoby

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So I tried another sample of this today and a couple of weeks have made a huge difference! I think it will be about perfect in a couple of more weeks, and that will end up being about 14 weeks from grain to glass. Pretty much what the original recipe stated. I guess I was getting a little anxious after hearing so many people saying that they get lagers finished after four weeks. I just don't know how they do it, but I will plan on the longer conditioning time period to ensure that the "green" taste is actually gone.
 

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